[Mesa-dev] [RFC] Linux Graphics Next: Explicit fences everywhere and no BO fences - initial proposal

Christian König ckoenig.leichtzumerken at gmail.com
Tue Apr 20 11:59:44 UTC 2021

> Yeah. If we go with userspace fences, then userspace can hang itself. Not
> the kernel's problem.

Well, the path of inner peace begins with four words. “Not my fucking 

But I'm not that much concerned about the kernel, but rather about 
important userspace processes like X, Wayland, SurfaceFlinger etc...

I mean attaching a page to a sync object and allowing to wait/signal 
from both CPU as well as GPU side is not so much of a problem.

> You have to somehow handle that, e.g. perhaps with conditional
> rendering and just using the old frame in compositing if the new one
> doesn't show up in time.

Nice idea, but how would you handle that on the OpenGL/Glamor/Vulkan level.


Am 20.04.21 um 13:16 schrieb Daniel Vetter:
> On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 07:03:19AM -0400, Marek Olšák wrote:
>> Daniel, are you suggesting that we should skip any deadlock prevention in
>> the kernel, and just let userspace wait for and signal any fence it has
>> access to?
> Yeah. If we go with userspace fences, then userspace can hang itself. Not
> the kernel's problem. The only criteria is that the kernel itself must
> never rely on these userspace fences, except for stuff like implementing
> optimized cpu waits. And in those we must always guarantee that the
> userspace process remains interruptible.
> It's a completely different world from dma_fence based kernel fences,
> whether those are implicit or explicit.
>> Do you have any concern with the deprecation/removal of BO fences in the
>> kernel assuming userspace is only using explicit fences? Any concern with
>> the submit and return fences for modesetting and other producer<->consumer
>> scenarios?
> Let me work on the full replay for your rfc first, because there's a lot
> of details here and nuance.
> -Daniel
>> Thanks,
>> Marek
>> On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 6:34 AM Daniel Vetter <daniel at ffwll.ch> wrote:
>>> On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 12:15 PM Christian König
>>> <ckoenig.leichtzumerken at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Am 19.04.21 um 17:48 schrieb Jason Ekstrand:
>>>>> Not going to comment on everything on the first pass...
>>>>> On Mon, Apr 19, 2021 at 5:48 AM Marek Olšák <maraeo at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>> Hi,
>>>>>> This is our initial proposal for explicit fences everywhere and new
>>> memory management that doesn't use BO fences. It's a redesign of how Linux
>>> graphics drivers work, and it can coexist with what we have now.
>>>>>> 1. Introduction
>>>>>> (skip this if you are already sold on explicit fences)
>>>>>> The current Linux graphics architecture was initially designed for
>>> GPUs with only one graphics queue where everything was executed in the
>>> submission order and per-BO fences were used for memory management and
>>> CPU-GPU synchronization, not GPU-GPU synchronization. Later, multiple
>>> queues were added on top, which required the introduction of implicit
>>> GPU-GPU synchronization between queues of different processes using per-BO
>>> fences. Recently, even parallel execution within one queue was enabled
>>> where a command buffer starts draws and compute shaders, but doesn't wait
>>> for them, enabling parallelism between back-to-back command buffers.
>>> Modesetting also uses per-BO fences for scheduling flips. Our GPU scheduler
>>> was created to enable all those use cases, and it's the only reason why the
>>> scheduler exists.
>>>>>> The GPU scheduler, implicit synchronization, BO-fence-based memory
>>> management, and the tracking of per-BO fences increase CPU overhead and
>>> latency, and reduce parallelism. There is a desire to replace all of them
>>> with something much simpler. Below is how we could do it.
>>>>>> 2. Explicit synchronization for window systems and modesetting
>>>>>> The producer is an application and the consumer is a compositor or a
>>> modesetting driver.
>>>>>> 2.1. The Present request
>>>>>> As part of the Present request, the producer will pass 2 fences (sync
>>> objects) to the consumer alongside the presented DMABUF BO:
>>>>>> - The submit fence: Initially unsignalled, it will be signalled when
>>> the producer has finished drawing into the presented buffer.
>>>>>> - The return fence: Initially unsignalled, it will be signalled when
>>> the consumer has finished using the presented buffer.
>>>>> I'm not sure syncobj is what we want.  In the Intel world we're trying
>>>>> to go even further to something we're calling "userspace fences" which
>>>>> are a timeline implemented as a single 64-bit value in some
>>>>> CPU-mappable BO.  The client writes a higher value into the BO to
>>>>> signal the timeline.
>>>> Well that is exactly what our Windows guys have suggested as well, but
>>>> it strongly looks like that this isn't sufficient.
>>>> First of all you run into security problems when any application can
>>>> just write any value to that memory location. Just imagine an
>>>> application sets the counter to zero and X waits forever for some
>>>> rendering to finish.
>>> The thing is, with userspace fences security boundary issue prevent
>>> moves into userspace entirely. And it really doesn't matter whether
>>> the event you're waiting on doesn't complete because the other app
>>> crashed or was stupid or intentionally gave you a wrong fence point:
>>> You have to somehow handle that, e.g. perhaps with conditional
>>> rendering and just using the old frame in compositing if the new one
>>> doesn't show up in time. Or something like that. So trying to get the
>>> kernel involved but also not so much involved sounds like a bad design
>>> to me.
>>>> Additional to that in such a model you can't determine who is the guilty
>>>> queue in case of a hang and can't reset the synchronization primitives
>>>> in case of an error.
>>>> Apart from that this is rather inefficient, e.g. we don't have any way
>>>> to prevent priority inversion when used as a synchronization mechanism
>>>> between different GPU queues.
>>> Yeah but you can't have it both ways. Either all the scheduling in the
>>> kernel and fence handling is a problem, or you actually want to
>>> schedule in the kernel. hw seems to definitely move towards the more
>>> stupid spinlock-in-hw model (and direct submit from userspace and all
>>> that), priority inversions be damned. I'm really not sure we should
>>> fight that - if it's really that inefficient then maybe hw will add
>>> support for waiting sync constructs in hardware, or at least be
>>> smarter about scheduling other stuff. E.g. on intel hw both the kernel
>>> scheduler and fw scheduler knows when you're spinning on a hw fence
>>> (whether userspace or kernel doesn't matter) and plugs in something
>>> else. Add in a bit of hw support to watch cachelines, and you have
>>> something which can handle both directions efficiently.
>>> Imo given where hw is going, we shouldn't try to be too clever here.
>>> The only thing we do need to provision is being able to do cpu side
>>> waits without spinning. And that should probably be done in a fairly
>>> gpu specific way still.
>>> -Daniel
>>>> Christian.
>>>>>     The kernel then provides some helpers for
>>>>> waiting on them reliably and without spinning.  I don't expect
>>>>> everyone to support these right away but, If we're going to re-plumb
>>>>> userspace for explicit synchronization, I'd like to make sure we take
>>>>> this into account so we only have to do it once.
>>>>>> Deadlock mitigation to recover from segfaults:
>>>>>> - The kernel knows which process is obliged to signal which fence.
>>> This information is part of the Present request and supplied by userspace.
>>>>> This isn't clear to me.  Yes, if we're using anything dma-fence based
>>>>> like syncobj, this is true.  But it doesn't seem totally true as a
>>>>> general statement.
>>>>>> - If the producer crashes, the kernel signals the submit fence, so
>>> that the consumer can make forward progress.
>>>>>> - If the consumer crashes, the kernel signals the return fence, so
>>> that the producer can reclaim the buffer.
>>>>>> - A GPU hang signals all fences. Other deadlocks will be handled like
>>> GPU hangs.
>>>>> What do you mean by "all"?  All fences that were supposed to be
>>>>> signaled by the hung context?
>>>>>> Other window system requests can follow the same idea.
>>>>>> Merged fences where one fence object contains multiple fences will be
>>> supported. A merged fence is signalled only when its fences are signalled.
>>> The consumer will have the option to redefine the unsignalled return fence
>>> to a merged fence.
>>>>>> 2.2. Modesetting
>>>>>> Since a modesetting driver can also be the consumer, the present
>>> ioctl will contain a submit fence and a return fence too. One small problem
>>> with this is that userspace can hang the modesetting driver, but in theory,
>>> any later present ioctl can override the previous one, so the unsignalled
>>> presentation is never used.
>>>>>> 3. New memory management
>>>>>> The per-BO fences will be removed and the kernel will not know which
>>> buffers are busy. This will reduce CPU overhead and latency. The kernel
>>> will not need per-BO fences with explicit synchronization, so we just need
>>> to remove their last user: buffer evictions. It also resolves the current
>>> OOM deadlock.
>>>>> Is this even really possible?  I'm no kernel MM expert (trying to
>>>>> learn some) but my understanding is that the use of per-BO dma-fence
>>>>> runs deep.  I would like to stop using it for implicit synchronization
>>>>> to be sure, but I'm not sure I believe the claim that we can get rid
>>>>> of it entirely.  Happy to see someone try, though.
>>>>>> 3.1. Evictions
>>>>>> If the kernel wants to move a buffer, it will have to wait for
>>> everything to go idle, halt all userspace command submissions, move the
>>> buffer, and resume everything. This is not expected to happen when memory
>>> is not exhausted. Other more efficient ways of synchronization are also
>>> possible (e.g. sync only one process), but are not discussed here.
>>>>>> 3.2. Per-process VRAM usage quota
>>>>>> Each process can optionally and periodically query its VRAM usage
>>> quota and change domains of its buffers to obey that quota. For example, a
>>> process allocated 2 GB of buffers in VRAM, but the kernel decreased the
>>> quota to 1 GB. The process can change the domains of the least important
>>> buffers to GTT to get the best outcome for itself. If the process doesn't
>>> do it, the kernel will choose which buffers to evict at random. (thanks to
>>> Christian Koenig for this idea)
>>>>> This is going to be difficult.  On Intel, we have some resources that
>>>>> have to be pinned to VRAM and can't be dynamically swapped out by the
>>>>> kernel.  In GL, we probably can deal with it somewhat dynamically.  In
>>>>> Vulkan, we'll be entirely dependent on the application to use the
>>>>> appropriate Vulkan memory budget APIs.
>>>>> --Jason
>>>>>> 3.3. Buffer destruction without per-BO fences
>>>>>> When the buffer destroy ioctl is called, an optional fence list can
>>> be passed to the kernel to indicate when it's safe to deallocate the
>>> buffer. If the fence list is empty, the buffer will be deallocated
>>> immediately. Shared buffers will be handled by merging fence lists from all
>>> processes that destroy them. Mitigation of malicious behavior:
>>>>>> - If userspace destroys a busy buffer, it will get a GPU page fault.
>>>>>> - If userspace sends fences that never signal, the kernel will have a
>>> timeout period and then will proceed to deallocate the buffer anyway.
>>>>>> 3.4. Other notes on MM
>>>>>> Overcommitment of GPU-accessible memory will cause an allocation
>>> failure or invoke the OOM killer. Evictions to GPU-inaccessible memory
>>> might not be supported.
>>>>>> Kernel drivers could move to this new memory management today. Only
>>> buffer residency and evictions would stop using per-BO fences.
>>>>>> 4. Deprecating implicit synchronization
>>>>>> It can be phased out by introducing a new generation of hardware
>>> where the driver doesn't add support for it (like a driver fork would do),
>>> assuming userspace has all the changes for explicit synchronization. This
>>> could potentially create an isolated part of the kernel DRM where all
>>> drivers only support explicit synchronization.
>>>>>> Marek
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> dri-devel mailing list
>>>>>> dri-devel at lists.freedesktop.org
>>>>>> https://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/dri-devel
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> mesa-dev mailing list
>>>>> mesa-dev at lists.freedesktop.org
>>>>> https://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/mesa-dev
>>> --
>>> Daniel Vetter
>>> Software Engineer, Intel Corporation
>>> http://blog.ffwll.ch

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